Country music makes a comeback at "Bash '96," this year's edition of the annual Orange County Musicians Festival and the county's biggest music party of the year, planned for Sunday at the Red Lion Hotel in Costa Mesa. "Bash '96" will devote a space to country sounds complete with dance floor.
"We had a room for country music during our first few years," says Frank Amoss, president of Orange County Musicians Union Local 7, which sponsors the 26-year-old event. "But we lost many of the musicians who were playing that music. The idea behind the bash is to celebrate live music of all kinds. Now that we again have members active in country music, we were anxious to include it."
Among the country acts scheduled are the Carl Scroggins Swing Band, Bill Tonnessen, George Carr and Dale Norris.
If C&W isn't your thing, don't despair. With 10 hours of music scheduled on six stages, encompassing more than 350 musicians, there'll be plenty of variety.
Again, jazz in its various forms--bebop, Latin, fusion, Dixieland and straight-ahead--will dominate, but there'll also be a room devoted to classical music, as well as a big-band room with a dance floor.
This year's grand marshal is bandleader Si Zentner, the Brooklyn-born trombonist and veteran of stints with Les Brown, Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey. Zentner began leading dance bands in the '50s and scored a Top 40 hit in 1960 with the Bob Florence arrangement of "Up a Lazy River." Zentner's big band will perform in the Red Lion's Grand Ballroom at 6 p.m. Arranger-bandleader Billy May will give Zentner a plaque commemorating his role.
"Zentner is one of those musicians who came to prominence near the end of the big-band era," Amoss said, "and managed through his excellent musical talent and leadership skills to keep his band going. He's been called the last of the big-band leaders, and it's true."
Besides Zentner's orchestra, big bands led by Norm Major, Tracy Wells, Bernie Farr, Lou Doken, John Henderson and others will provide music for dancing. Al Latour's Big Band Command will feature distinguished clarinetist Abe Most. "Bash" chairman Amoss will lead an orchestra that includes the four-voice Sounds of Swing singing Tom Kubis' arrangements for big band.
The jazz room will host, among others, guitarist Bobby Redfield's Latin Jazz All Stars, bassist Jack Prather's Great American Music Company with vocalists Dewey Erney and Stephanie Haynes, drummer Chiz Harris' Group Therapy and vivacious vocalist Karen Gallinger making her annual appearance with pianist Jack Reidling. Reidling will surface a second time in the classical room to perform duos with saxophonist Leo Potts.
In the hotel's spacious lobby lounge, a variety of styles will be aired, including the tuba-based ensemble TUBOP, Tom Bevans Electric Air and the Trinidad and Tobago Showboat Steel Orchestra. Highlights in the Dixieland Room, again this year in the hotel's Club Max, include Bob White's Hyperion Outfall Serenaders and Wally Holmes' Yankee Wailers.
Proceeds from the event benefit the B. Douglas Sawtelle Music Scholarship Fund for young musicians and the Musicians' Emergency Relief Program. Last year's get-together raised $12,000.
* What: "Bash '96," the 26th annual Orange County Musicians' Festival.
* When: Noon-10 p.m. Sunday.
* Where: Red Lion Hotel, 3050 Bristol St., Costa Mesa.
* Whereabouts: Exit the San Diego (405) Freeway at Bristol Street and go south about half a mile to the Red Lion Hotel.
* Wherewithal: $20 in advance, $22 at the door.
* Where to call: (714) 546-8166.